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Natalia Molchanova – The Freediving World Reacts

Natalia Molchanova, the darling and superstar of the Freediving world, is lost at sea and presumed dead after not returning from a dive on Sunday 2nd August.

After the news broke on Tuesday many in the Freediving world took to Social Media to express their shock and sadness.  Below are a some of the messages we’ve received directly as well as via social media.

Tanya Streeter – World Champion Freediver

“The news of losing Natalia is utterly devastating to the entire freediving community, myself included. It’s impossible to imagine there is a diver alive today who has not been inspired by Natalia’s force and grace in our beautiful sport. She is the greatest female freediver this world has known and will never be forgotten. My thoughts and prayers are with her family, loved ones, and those blessed to have shared the ocean with her.”

Daan Verhoeven – Freediving Photographer & Videographer

“My favorite memory of the last world championships is of her, right after her static qualification. She did more than 7 minutes like it was no big deal, and after she thanked her judge she swam out of her lane and spotted something. I saw her lift that something out of the water with her finger tip: it was a drowning insect. She tread water for a moment as she let it dry, then watched as it flew off. Then she got out of the pool. Part of me hopes there’s some kind of super-Natalia out there in Ibiza that does the same for her, lifts her out of the sea and waits till she recovers. Part of me hears the cruel poetry in the way she left — we were only borrowing this beautiful sea creature. Another part of me mourns the loss of our champion, and the biggest part of me grieves with all those who loved her, first and foremost her son Alexey and daughter Oksana.”

Grant W Graves – President of USA Freediving and AIDA Judge Trainer

“My most heart felt condolences to Alexey and the rest of Natalia’s family. Most knew Natalia as a fierce champion and competitor. She was the queen of the game face and largely unflappable when it came to competing. Those pursuing her achievements were often intimidated as fellow athletes. Terms like the Russian machine and unstoppable were often associated with her. Away from competition she was one of the warmest and sweetest people I have known. Especially when children were around. She would not hesitate for a moment to play with any child she would meet. She would get in the dirt and get right into their world. When she could make a child laugh the smile on her face was bigger than any other time; more so even than winning her championships or setting her many records.”

Ashley Futral Chapman – 3x Freediving World Record Holder

“Having ever been on the same playing field as Natalia was an honor that will last a lifetime. Her legacy in the sport transcends freediving and runs across all athletic endeavors putting her in the same category as Michael Jordan and Michael Phelps. I am sad that I never got the chance to train with her. To learn from the best. I’m confident no one, male or female will ever dominate the record books the way she managed to.”

William Trubridge – 15x Freediving World Record Holder

“The world lost its greatest freediver on Sunday, and my friend Alexey lost his dear mother, teacher, and training partner. My thoughts are split between the memory of such an indomitable, but gentle woman, and the deepest condolence for Alexey and the family she left behind.”

The world lost its greatest freediver on Sunday, and my friend Alexey lost his dear mother, teacher, and training…

Posted by William Trubridge on Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Sara Campbell – Former World Champion Freediver

“I am numb at hearing of the loss of Natalia. I have always looked up to her and the more I got to know her, the more I realised she is far more than the ‘machine’ that people referred to – she was intensely human, gentle, compassionate and a wonderful, joyful person to be around. Like me she loved animals, babies and the ocean and I felt a deep affinity with her on many, many levels. I am shocked and saddened by her death and I send my love to Alexey and Oksana. I know there are no words to comfort someone for the loss of their mum. We will all remember her with love, affection and immense amounts of respect and awe. Natalia, a truly great woman, now in the arms of the ocean.”

Umberto Pelizzari – Former World Champion Freediver

“I have great memories of Natalia. I was impressed for her way of doing things… always smiling, open to listen to the people like she was a beginner freediver, not the best! I remember one day, in Lignano sabbiadoro, at a big conference on Freediving, she stopped me and said she wanted advice from me on how to solve some technical Freediving problems of some of her students! She was asking me!  This was what was always surprising from her: she was always open to listen to anybody and convinced that she could learn from anybody…even if she was the best!”

Stephan Whelan
Stephan Whelan
Stephan is the Founder of His passion for the underwater world started at 8 years old with a try-dive in a hotel pool on holiday that soon formulated into a lifelong love affair with the oceans. In 1996 he set up and has grown the site to be the most popular diving website and community in the world.